Houston: Jas. Mardis’ “The Return of the African Dodger” Has Landed

IMG_0768If you are in the Houston, Texas area please stop by the Holocaust Museum of Houston and check out the juried exhibition, Genocide: Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind, and my contribution, titled: “Am I Human to You Yet?: The Return of the African Dodger“.

Did you know that the Dunk Tank is a compromise to the Amusement Park human target game where baseballs and stones were thrown at African-American men’s heads…all across America…for years?

Did you know that the men were often maimed, blinded and even killed as a result of professional athletes and gangs of White youths ambushing the “African Dodger”?

Did you know that there is currently a shooting target being sold at Gun Shows called “The Running Nigger Target” and the scoring target is the penis, just like in lynchings where the penis was often removed as a souvenir?

Come by the exhibition and see multiple takes of the theme of Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind. At the Artist Reception the crowd was googling the subject matter out of disbelief. It is a grand show.

GENOCIDE: Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind” houston 15
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September 30, 2016 through December 31, 2016
Holocaust Museum Houston’s first contemporary juried exhibit, “GENOCIDE:  Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind,” includes 65 selections representing 2D and 3D media. Works featured are from the more than 600 submissions by Texas area artists, with the exception of film and video. This contemporary art exhibition explores the suffering humans are capable of bestowing on one another. “GENOCIDE” is the brainchild of Holocaust Museum Houston’s changing exhibitions committee, including Gus Kopriva, owner of the Redbud Gallery in Houston, and Clint Willour, curator for the Galveston Arts Center. Willour also was the juror of the exhibition. He has served as juror for numerous commercial and non-profit organizations. The topic of genocide is part of HMH’s mission to teach the dangers against hatred, prejudice and apathy. Through the eyes of each artists’ work, these lessons are reflected vividly, hauntingly and provocatively with the understanding of the brutality and senselessness of such acts. Inviting artists with ties to Texas inspires collaboration with the museum and further promotes the programs and activities of HMH.  Privately donated cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place and a catalogue will be produced. HMH members are invited to a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 19, 2016, with opening remarks by Gus Kopriva and Clint Willour at 6:30 p.m.   Admission is free, but advance registration is required for this reception. Visit http://www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online.

South of Eden

 

South of Eden
Sometimes

I have to be reminded

So, the rain comes flashing through

pouring life from on high

where the clouds have grown gray and fat

with what someone once said were

“The tears of the devil’s wife”

who was being spanked

 

and I’m reminded

when all is done

by how glorious and green the world turns

after being drenched and drained of its’ dullness

by the rain

 

and I’m reminded

by the copious pages of grasses turned again

toward the verdant sheets of green

stretching ever so fully

‘cross the fields and vacant lots

forever sprouting skyward into the heads of trees

sliding with elegance into the valleys and

over the hills

then climbing the ivy against the walls of lattice work and brick

and window trim

 

and I’m reminded

by how clear and blue and calm

the rain turns the sky

of how sacredly calm the earth’s beauty

can pulse the human blood

and excite the body toward passions long forgotten

of how one simple gaze of

grasses and tree tops turned back to green

and leaves reclaiming their reds and yellows

and the beige and white of buildings pulling up from the ground

the ground churning the brown dust and dirt and earth

into a thing of beauty

like the wide eyes of a woman  ready to love

and I’m reminded

by the early morning/late evening smells of that dirt

that   earth     sectioned off by garden fences

 

that earth

peeled back against itself into the frenzy of a mound

that earth

and the smell of it all

streaking through the air and finding the nostrils

sparking the heart and the memory

reminding

me to never forget the early mornings of my youth

when the open window brought me this same

fresh-earth aroma

 

and awoke me to it

so that I’d stumble to that window and look out

into my Mother’s garden

 

with the tall, green stems bending under the tomato’s growth

while swollen stalks of okra and peas watered the mouth

and branches of pecans and plums and persimmons

rallied their growth against our crunch of apple-pears

in their shade

 

and watermelons burst under the force of their juices

 

and sometimes I need to be reminded

that I am south of Eden

with her garden growing dense with promise and remembrances

 

and I open my mind’s eye to the beauty of it all

and make a wish on never forgetting to know

something this wonderful

is just   a   rain   away

 

 

 

 

Jas. Mardis

KenteCloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora

Page 62     University of North Texas Press  1997

Final April Poetry 2016: This One Day

This One Day

There is just this one day

A set of    single       unmissed moments    occurring between us
bringing thoughts and new wants and joy
bursting from within me

riding the instant melody of your surprising voice
heaping coals onto the fire that is your laughter

unearthing treasures in each slow closing and reappearance of your eyes
upturning urges and tickling the toes of my stepping nearer to you

I won’t bother asking if this evening    is honestly    all     mine

hopefully you are asking, too
hopefully,  like     wonder,   you      across this landscape of table top
across this closing divide
on the other side of this meal     at the end of a swallow

tenderly  wrapped  like a luscious tongue ’round the tine of a fork
savoring  this new taste   that fills  our bellies

I would go ahead and cry for you
go ahead and let the held back water flow from within my soul
go ahead and fill the dry, ochre fibers of this mud cloth sewn overshirt

I would     go ahead and lay down for you
a mere bridge    a heaven’s gate    a whisper covering and claiming it’s only heart

there is never enough time on night’s like this
never enough nights    wetted     and savoring    and lavish    like this

I am certain that tomorrow awaits just beyond these windows
waits    and claims new life    just beyond the doors of this eatery
waits    and ponders  which other big, precious brown eyed beauty
what other   ebony hued and ivory grinned   slender slip of curved Sistah
wherever  other self-assured and charismatic women will be poured out before me

Tomorrow …..a desperate creator of itself
having never cared to hold over  remnants  of what Today has laid bare
Tomorrow
already     pressing the clocks and watches into a new hour
wants me to believe that you are on your way gone
slipping away     filtered out by the cold and dark night    that we are being guided  into
the exhausted Waiter     himself a Tomorrow Man
already paid and cashed out and done with our ogling eyes   and cold, spilled fries

Tomorrow….Tomorrow…..
I am convinced that if you will accept my offer to  take you gently into the wealth
and warmth of   a moment    pressed against this tear stained ochre shirt
even Tomorrow will claim us     as its very.  own creation

 

Jas. Mardis

 

New 2016 National Poetry Month poems
Jas Mardis is a 2014 inductee into The Texas Literary Hall of Fame and an award winning Poet, Radio

Commentator and Art Quilter.

April Poetry II 2016: The Morning’s Flesh

        Photo credit Jack Delano

The Morning’s Flesh

for Sweet

My finger touches the pimpled layers of fresh washed skin
And I cradle that luscious roundness in my upturned palm

My thumb slips into the curving   opening up   places
And a drizzle of juice covers my fingers and puddles into my palm

I stop my peeling and savor just the licking and lapping and pleasure

I always know this taste   it’s always the  first time
I know there’s    more to     come

The cover just falls away now
And the juice is spraying my open mouth and fills my mustache with sweetness

I don’t know if my teeth will hurt or tease these slices of sweet flesh

So I use my tongue
And let the bitter skin
Teach me new ways to enjoy the
Waiting, weeping flesh of
this morning’s orange

 

 
Jas. Mardis

 

New 2016 National Poetry Month poems
Jas Mardis is a 2014 inductee into The Texas Literary Hall of Fame and an award winning Poet, Radio Commentator and Art Quilter.

April Poetry 2016: Others Will Tell

image2

Others Will Tell

 

Others will tell you
that:   your yellow dress caught their eye
and so they smiled  and winked and took their own picture
to be reminded of you    later

they will tell you
that:  once they left you standing there
caught up in the camera’s eye
they grew another head thinking of all the sweet things they didn’t say

they will tell you
that:   every other lofty, wavering laughter since your’s on that day
when the camera flashed and your face shown bright in the shadows
reminds them of how much sweetness and joy remains in the world

they will tell you
that:   strangers and friends have begun to ask
for their own copy of your picture   to gaze upon during breaks in their day
to imagine the cool shade and warmth   to want to be framed by the shadows of trees

they will tell you
that: they finally understand    why others wander the earth
cameras in hand    the new day’s sun bathing them all over
their eyes filling and flowing over with the hope of having such a moment with you

they will tell you
that: when I heard their story of the wonderful, watchful, witness of you
I did not weep or wail or moan    I did not blink or wink or nod
I simply shook my head and whispered: “Yeah? Wait until she wears red”

 

 
Jas. Mardis
03/01/2016

 

 
New 2016 National Poetry Month poems
Jas Mardis is a 2014 inductee into The Texas Literary Hall of Fame and an award winning Poet, Radio Commentator and an Art Quilter.

I Did Not Kiss You Then

 

 

 

image

 

I Did Not Kiss You Then
for you M.

If I start now
I will be able to kiss all of your lips
pursed, like clutches of sweet, buttery mahogany leather between
elegant unhurried undressing darkly mocha eyes
and that most succulent sweep and beckoning perk of chin
always poised and framed in the light of your falling and bouncing curls

I did not kiss you then
back then
all of those unrequited opportunities ago
back when I was too foolish to go under your water
to walk your warming earth mother
to say into your close, laughing breath all that finally awakened within me at fifty

If I start now
I will be able to press without abandon against your lips
against this watched and known breakwater of longing and whispers
against the gravity of our parallel seasons of beautiful wondering and wandering
that lands us again and again on these paths and passions

I did not kiss you then
in the light of those too soon days of our youths
in those stumbling days of flat bellies and too much drinking
in those ready mouthed moments of sudden parties and naked stupidity
in those deafening grab-the-ring and step quickly off the ride chances

If I start now
right now
with your face this close with your voice so softly stayed in your throat
with your coat wrestling open in the heat of this museum hallway
with all of our friends trying not to notice what every lone and beating heart
calls fire in the self pleasing habit of their own chased bedded nights
If I start with this small kiss of your beautiful lips
I may be able to catch
us both up

 

Jas. Mardis
01/28/2016

This One Day

image2

This One Day–audio
There is just this one day

A set of single unmissed moments occurring between us
bringing thoughts and new wants and joy
bursting from within me

riding the instant melody of your surprising voice
heaping coals onto the fire that is your laughter

unearthing treasures in each slow closing and reappearance of your eyes
upturning urges and tickling the toes of my stepping nearer to you

I won’t bother asking if this evening is honestly all mine

hopefully you are asking, too
hopefully, like wonder, you across this landscape of table top
across this closing divide
on the other side of this meal at the end of a swallow

tenderly wrapped like a luscious tongue ’round the tine of a fork
savoring this new taste that fills our bellies

I would go ahead and cry for you
go ahead and let the held back water flow from within my soul
go ahead and fill the dry, ochre fibers of this mud cloth sewn overshirt

I would go ahead and lay down for you
a mere bridge a heaven’s gate a whisper covering and claiming it’s only heart

there is never enough time on night’s like this
never enough nights wetted and savoring and lavish like this

I am certain that tomorrow awaits just beyond these windows
waits and claims new life just beyond the doors of this eatery
waits and ponders which other big, precious brown eyed beauty
what other ebony hued and ivory grinned slender slip of curved Sistah
wherever other self-assured and charismatic women will be poured out before me

Tomorrow …..a desperate creator of itself
having never cared to hold over remnants of what Today has laid bare
Tomorrow
already pressing the clocks and watches into a new hour
wants me to believe that you are on your way gone
slipping away filtered out by the cold and dark night that we are being guided into
the exhausted Waiter himself a Tomorrow Man
already paid and cashed out and done with our ogling eyes and cold, spilled fries

Tomorrow….Tomorrow…..
I am convinced that if you will accept my offer to take you gently into the wealth
and warmth of a moment pressed against the tear stained ochre shirt
even Tomorrow will claim us as its’ very, very own creation

 

 

Jas. C. Mardis
 


 

Jas. C. Mardis is a Poet, Writer and Quilter. He is a 2014 Inductee to the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.